Pairing: Bruce/Lex, Bruce/Clark and Clark/Lex implied
Rating: Adult, NC-17
Length: 2969 words
Spoilers: future fic for SV, *loosely* based on DC's "Death of Superman".
Warnings: slash, angst
Disclaimer: Not mine, seriously. All belongs to Al & Miles, WB/CW and DC Comics.
A/N: Originally intended for the Lex and Anyone But Clark challenge. Which was last month.
Summary: Superman does the impossible again. He dies. Bruce finally visits Metropolis.
Three months gone and he still hates it, that statue, that brazen thing erected in the center of the city. A city without, a world without, and he hates that he feels it keenly. Keen – something women do at funerals – weep and wail, the discomportment of grief. Sound to fill the empty spaces.
Lex knows something of empty spaces, all Clark-shaped. The empty bench at the diner, the empty chair at his press conferences.
Now the emptiness fits his car at the nighttime curb, the statue mere feet away. His a surreptitious mourning, sneaking into the graveyard, time alone to gloat and berate.
Only someone stands in front of it, trenchcoat billowing in the increasing autumn breeze.
And for a mere second, the windswept black hair, the stance of the broad shoulders…for a mere second that Clark-shaped space has someone in it, the edges finely shaped and honed and it has to be…
It cannot be otherwise.
“You’ve got some explaining to do,” Lex says.
But Bruce Wayne turns and all the empty spaces return, long shadows in the floodlights illuminating the statue.
“Lex,” he says, a sardonic smile, hand reaching inside his coat.
Lex wills himself not to flinch.
Bruce pulls out a flask, near-gone, for he tilts it back and drains it.
“You’re drunk,” Lex says, unbelieving, a small laugh.
“Got it in one,” Bruce says, a thumb tracing the edge of his lip. He turns back to the statue. “It’s so clean,” he says after a moment, either stupefied or profound, controlled nonetheless. “I thought it would…”
“Have more pigeon crap? The memorial fund pays for a daily cleaning. Can’t do to have a tarnished god looking out at the city.”
Lex moves forward, stands beside him. A breath more of wind and their shoulders would touch.
“He never wanted to be a god and they turned him into one anyway.”
Lex doesn’t answer that. “Did you fly in?” he says.
“Yes,” he says, not bothering to clarify how. He certainly has commercial means available, a fortune, well-wielded despite his smoke-screen of antics.
Looking sidelong, Lex says, “Funny, how you couldn’t do that for the funeral.”
Bruce’s body tenses, fist closing around the empty flask. “Funny, how you dared to attend,” he says.
Lex smiles. “Self-righteous accusation. Ah, how I’ve missed it.”
Bruce turns, mouth grim. “Don’t. He may have played that with you…” His voice fades, and he turns back, facing the statue once again.
Lex puts his hands in his pockets, sighs. “It’s late,” he says. “The streets aren’t what they once were.”
“I can handle myself,” Bruce says. “Go home, Lex.”
“Good, then we’re abandoning all pretense.” Lex turns to go. “Unless you’ve more brandy stashed in that coat of yours, my place is only five minutes away. I could use a proper drink myself.”
“Seriously?” Bruce says, turning once again, face only showing a hint of brandied befuddlement. “What on earth for?”
“I don’t do bars,” Lex says, reaching for his keys.
By the time he reaches his Aston Martin, Bruce has caught up with him. He silently slides into the passenger side when Lex unlocks the doors.
Only the low ambient lighting, automatic, as he strides out of the elevator, car keys in hand. Bruce follows, passes him, perusing a bookcase past the entry, face in shadow.
Lex goes over to the bar. “Are we staying with brandy?” he says. He pours two before Bruce can answer. All questions rhetorical at this point.
“Have you really read all these?” Long fingers linger on a gilt spine.
“They’re mostly decorative, but yes.” Bruce has similar volumes in a library that Lex has only spied through cameras, careful surveillance. Long nights when Bruce only sat to read or to work rather than deftly pressing a pattern to reveal his own elevator, one that only went down.
He hands Bruce a snifter and raises his own. “Shall we toast the dead?”
Bruce stiffens, then turns. He downs the glass in two swift gulps. “This was a bad idea.”
Bruce looks out the panoramic window, the Metropolis skies clear and empty. His the stance of a king in another kingdom, regal and lost, the battlefield in ruins. Careless in his beauty, strength showing through the cracks, too tired to pretend. Lex’s breath catches and he drowns it in slow, even sips.
Of course the two of them found each other. Lex believes in physics. One planet and two such men. Liars both, pretending honesty to each other. And Lex wonders when it happened. On a rooftop, no doubt, capes mingling. Perhaps hands around each other’s throats, desperate and grimacing. He cannot imagine Bruce being gentle.
And yet he does. Whispers and regret, Bruce’s mouth murmuring. Pillow talk in the trenches. Clark’s hands unmasking and Bruce allowing it, shivering in the dark.
He should have poisoned the brandy. He has ways of disposing bodies. He’s already buried one, completely at his expense. He could commission another monument, weep at the funeral and smile into his hands.
“Take off your coat, stay a while.”
Bruce sheds it, the fluid motion of a predator, graceful, flings it carelessly onto the leather couch. He catches the glass before it falls.
At least he grants Lex this honesty, the giddy buffoon he parades himself as at society functions completely absent.
Lex has seen this only once or twice. Vicious fucks in the boardroom, shared ventures. Bruce a feral creature and Lex pinned beneath him, laughing.
He’s prepared for this. Rug burn heals quickly. Pain to wash all the rest of it away, sharp and pure.
“Another?” he says, reaching for the glass.
But Bruce nods, face already softened by drink, extends his hand.
And the memory of that boy, sun at his back, reaching down to pull him up as he lay bleeding on the ground, the shadow of a savior as the other boys fled - Bruce had been dangerous even then - that memory makes Lex turn back to the bar.
He’s had his fill of seventeen-year old boys. He knew them both, beautiful and tragic. And he touched neither one.
Regret is the province of old men, something to be indulged when all the battles are done. He has wars to wage yet, regardless of whom has fallen.
He pours two more brandies, downs his quickly and pours himself another. He needs to be drunk for this.
“I’ve something to show you,” he says.
He walks over to the media center, pushes play, turns on the plasma screen. They both sit on the couch, neither at the ends nor in the middle. Bruce swirls his brandy, once, twice, settles.
Hey, Clark, smile for the camera!” Chloe says.
Clark, sixteen and only in swim trunks, waves. He dives into the water, bronze and graceful arch. Wet and dark curls emerge in the middle of the pool.
“Hey, Lex, come on in,” he says, radiant and happy.
The camera swerves to Lex, in business casual, standing by the edge of the pool.
“I hardly think so, Clark. I’ve got to get back to the office.” He nods back to the camera. “But you and Chloe can enjoy the grounds.”
His face startles as the camera catches a sly hand grabbing his leg, pulling him in.
Sputtering, fury changes into a laugh. “You’re so very lucky that I’m not a vindictive man.” He splashes water, treading through it, at Clark who easily dodges.
“Yeah, lucky me.” Clark grins.
And Lex looks for all the world as if luck has fallen on him instead…
Lex pauses the video. He’s rewatched this too many times, analyzing the alien but only finding the man. He turns to Bruce.
Bruce’s head rests on the couch back, legs slightly splayed, the now empty snifter rests against his inner thigh. His eyes are half-lidded and he even smiles, wistful.
“Dick has a similar video,” he says. He doesn’t elaborate. Lex’s mind provides the picture anyway: an older Clark, laughing, in an indoor pool, a no less sputtering Bruce.
And if he were anything less than a cruel man, he’d leave it at that. Just turn the damn thing off and fumble on the couch for a while, a level playing field. Part of him wants to, to strip Bruce down, the image of Clark still ghosting the room. A meeting of mouths and hands and the vulnerabilities that neither of them would admit to, blame it on the drink. Consolation.
But he is who he is and he takes nothing but what he can wrest, triumphant.
“There’s more,” he says. And he pushes play.
The scene emerges from blackness to Lex’s office. Clark and his horrendous suit sit across from him, notepad in hand. Clark blinks and adjusts his glasses.
“Mr. Luthor, we should conclude this interview. I hardly think…”
“Can’t face the camera, Clark?"
“It’s just not appropr…”
“Call me Lex, Clark. You used to. Indulge a dying man.”
Clark’s mouth sets. He’s clearly thinking, wary. He takes off the glasses. Such a small thing and yet the transformation is startling when he looks directly at the camera. “What are you doing, Lex?”
“I think it’s called fun and spontaneity, Clark. I have a dim memory of that.”
Despite himself, Clark smiles.
“So Clark Kent, tell me something about yourself.”
Clark says nothing. He looks into the camera for a good while. The camera wavers somewhat, the hand holding it suddenly unsteady.
“Clark…” Lex’s voice now ragged, a whisper.
“I don’t want you to die, Lex.”
The frame reels as the camera falls to the desk. Lex walks in front of it, stands beside the chair. His human hand caresses the now hunched shoulder as Clark looks away. He kneels and the mechanical hand turns Clark’s chin towards him, their faces now level.
“We still have time,” Lex says.
Clark closes his eyes.
“Look at me.” The voice calm, but a thin desperation nonetheless.
Clark does. Their eyes meet and his face starts to crumble.
“Shhh,” Lex says. “Don’t.”
But Clark looks back at the abandoned camera. “Just…turn it off, Lex. Please.”
Lex nods, reaches over, and the screen goes blank.
The blow sends Lex sprawling to the floor. Bruce straddles him, one hand around his neck, the other a fist, raised. His face furious, open, betrayed.
Lex might be the one with his back against the floor, but no less the victor. He smiles, arches into that breathtaking hand. “Harder,” he whispers.
Bruce recoils, releases him, sits back on his heels. “You’re sick,” he says, obvious disgust, some for Lex, but most likely more for himself for being so well played.
“So are you,” Lex says, leaning up on an elbow. And he is, one sick bastard in the guise of a beautiful man and a warped sense of justice. Justice, in this case, serves neither of them. Justice demanded that one man fall from the sky and not get up again.
Justice can go fuck herself.
“It should have been you,” Bruce says. His face controlled, but the veneer so thin. “It should have been you.”
It should have been him. It very nearly was. He had walked away, younger and strong, leaving that cancer-ridden shell behind with only one glance, a discarded suit. No one the wiser. A different man and Supergirl on his arm. But Bruce had deduced it. Yet even he couldn’t give back to death what Lex had snatched away.
His mistake. They had both lived to see that plummeting body.
He couldn’t throw those words back at him as much as he would have gladly traded the two. Bruce would die anyway, sooner rather than later, in some back alley in Gotham, snarling at some low-level hoodlum and his lucky day.
And then the world would have neither, sun nor shadow. It all balances out.
“I could say the same,” he says, just because it’s expected. Bruce has been a dead man walking for quite some time. No faint promises of forever to taunt him. Just a question of when and whether Lex would have a hand in it.
But not tonight. Tonight the planes of Bruce’s face soften the lamplight. He is a creature of shadows, yes, but light shapes the shadows. They are nothing without it. A silhouette. And one less Clark-shaped hole in the world.
Bruce leans forward, grips Lex’s wrists. “What?” he says, low and deadly.
“Imagine,” he says, “fighting over a dead man.”
Bruce snarls, nearly closes in. He stops and pulls back, breathes, looks away.
Even though he dishes it out, feeds Bruce the pain with a brandied spoon, Lex leans back up. It’s his pain too and he has to taste it.
Bruce doesn’t stop him. He relents, hands falling away, as Lex kisses him.
The surprising softness of it is something neither of them deserves. And certainly not here.
Lex pulls away, rising. He walks away, down the hall.
“Where are you going?” Bruce says, unnecessarily, from the floor. Christ, he must be drunk.
“To bed,” he says, not turning. “My days of fucking on the floor are over.”
By the time he takes off his cufflinks and places them on a silver plate on the bureau, Bruce has stripped off his shirt. Lex watches in the mirror, shakes his head in disbelief how something so powerful, so extraordinary, could escape people’s notice. But then again, most people are fools, easily led by such as himself and Bruce.
Even by Clark, when he cared to.
Lex kneels, takes that cock into his mouth as soon as Bruce’s boxers are by his thighs. The shape, the curve so like…
He can’t. He pulls back, rises and finishes disrobing. He lies back on the bed and watches. Bruce lies next to him.
“I remember a time when none of these were here,” Lex says, tracing a scar line. They cross his body, limbs and torso full. The back too, surely, if he could see it.
“They used to fascinate him,” Bruce says, staring up at the ceiling. And he laughs, a sick, low sound bereft of humor.
And they would. Clark would have memorized each and every one, lingering.
“Shut up,” Lex says. “God, Bruce, just shut the fuck up.” He curls to the side. Christ, he must be drunk as well.
He doesn’t have to look to feel Bruce’s cold smile against his shoulder blade. He arches back, brushes that still erect cock.
Like this, fast and dirty and dry. What did either of them have to be careful for?
“No,” Bruce says. “Not like this.”
Lex turns expecting to see Bruce on his knees, ready to shove that cock down his throat. No less brutal.
He sees Bruce on his knees, yes, but hands gripping the headboard, facing the wall.
“Well?” he says, head turning, challenging, jutting back slightly so there could be no mistake.
There are few absolutes in life, few givens. Schrödinger’s Box lingering in every corner. Bruce turns for no man. And all the rules of their infrequent fucks over the years, all so long ago, all before a man laughed at gravity as a world watched, fall away.
Lex lets out a shuddering breath, reaches for the nightstand.
Bruce grabs his hand, quick and sure. “Don’t,” he says, voice rough. “I want it to hurt.”
“I’m thinking more of my comfort than of yours,” Lex says. Bruce releases him, turns away, braces.
Lex rolls on the condom, slicks his fingers, teases. He nibbles that corded neck, cock riding that cleft, slow. He reaches around, caresses the chest. He reaches up to the hair, cards it back.
And if he closes his eyes. God, so similar. In body, if not demeanor.
“Oh God,” he sighs. And he can’t not be gentle. Even if it is crueler. Perhaps because it is. To both of them.
And he enters, slow, sliding. Bruce arches, head lolling. Lex, gripping the hair still, kisses him, tongue slow and yielding.
This is not Bruce’s first time. His thrusts too urgent, too specific, the tense muscles loosen too quickly.
This is a map to how it had been, the places that Lex’s camera had never captured. And Clark had been, Clark had…
It’s true. No paranoid surmising, but simple truth. Each detail of this a repetition, a mirror to the trust extended.
Lex slides his mouth and bites down on Bruce’s shoulder. Bruce shakes his head. “No,” he says.
Lex mouths it instead, slightly wet and sloppy.
“Yes,” Bruce says, faltering, voice rising. “Yes…”
He should stop, pull out painfully, say something sharp and scathing. But Clark had…
Lex reaches around, fumbles slightly.
“Oh God…” Bruce says, frantic and thrusting, his own fingers scrambling the edge of the headboard.
“Hey,” Lex says, “Are you okay?” As Clark must have. So Clark to worry about such things. Bruce turns, eyes half-lidded, wanton and desperate, and takes his mouth with his own. And whimpers, a keening sound. He shakes and quivers, comes all over Lex’s deceivingly inexpert fingers.
The shock of it. Lex tightens, and comes too, mouth still on Bruce.
“Bruce…” he says in wonder, any anger a far off thing, hands slipping down those hips as Bruce leans down into the headboard. “I…” And the words don’t come. This illusion something he’s unwilling to break. A cruel and harsh gift. But a gift nonetheless.
They slump together, down to the pillows. Lex still inside, but softening. Spooning, of all things. Bruce reaches for Lex’s hand, pulls it towards his chest. He breathes, a ragged sigh, and then another. He doesn’t let go of Lex’s hand. Lex doesn’t release it.
Outside, through the blinds, the Metropolis skies fill with rain and nothing else. Inside, two men lie beside one another and breathe.